No Sacrifice Zones in Research Either!

Rebecca Bratspies

June 7, 2022

Our research collaboration began with a brief query: ‘We are having problems with waste transfer stations in our neighborhood. Can I call you?This short message was a private chat from Southeast Queens community leader Andrea Scarborough to CUNY Law Professor Rebecca Bratspies during the Eastern Queens Alliance’s Environmental Justice Unwrapped event in the summer of 2020.

Andrea was referring to Jamaica, Queens, where two waste transfer stations are located directly adjacent to a Black residential neighborhood and across the street from the neighborhood’s primary greenspace, the Detective Keith L. Williams Park. Across the country there are too many communities like this one in Jamaica, historically redlined Black neighborhoods that continue to experience disproportionate social, economic, and environmental injustices driven by structural racism and entrenched social inequality.

Establishing Equitable & Just Relationships to Address the Problem

Andrea’s chat message morphed into lengthy phone calls, and then a series of Zoom meetings. Ultimately her message launched a collaborative research project between local residents fed up with odor, noise, and pollution, and a team of technical experts including Andrea Scarborough of the Queens Solid Waste Advisory Board, Luz Guel and Dr. Maida Galvez, Directors of Community Engagement at Mt. Sinai’s Transdisciplinary Center for Early Environmental Exposures, Professor Rebecca Bratspies at CUNY Law School’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform, Dr. Dawn Roberts-Semple, environmental science professor at CUNY York College, and Danielle Dubno-Hammer, New York City public school teacher at the Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights High School.

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